- a collection of notes and reflections on urban living from the perspective of a family of five in Tokyo. My epiphany was many years ago, but being hit by a motorbike and seeing my life flash before my eyes caused a sudden change that slowly made me reflect on whether American style auto-centric urban transportation of the Roosevelt era really is a capital G "Good Idea" for civilized modern cities in the 21st Century. This blog explores the good and the bad in urban planning and design, here and elsewhere. The goal is simple - not "death to all cars," just more walkable communities, quiet tree-lined streets, good public transport, traffic calming, Velib style bicycle sharing and a bit of common sense. The bolg is mostly theraputic, so I don't go wanting to throttle every dangerous driver I come across, but partly also out of a real desire to see positive change. This blog explores how it can be done, the people who do it, and how, in many small ways, this very old idea may at last have found its zeitgeist. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Obesity Epidemic

There is a seriously interesting interview here all about the obesity epidemic, and what some researchers are convinced is causing it. Quite a bit of food for thought (pun intended). I thought I would posting here because the obesity epidemic in the Western world is so closely linked to our automobile dependency. The interview goes into some detail about exactly how and why exercise is the single most effective (perhaps only?) remedy for obesity, and perhaps even more interestingly, why fructose may be far more dangerous than we thought, and how the food industry may be literally poisoning us by putting fructose into everything.

It is well worth a read - or even better, have a listen to the interview -it is quite a gem. Norman Swan is a very accomplished radio interviewer and in this one he really meets his match. You can get audio archives of the Health Report online via iTunes etc.

Transcript of the interview:

Again and again, visitors to stay with me in Japan remark at how much exercise they get in Tokyo - all completely inadvertently just by walking, catching trains, and going up and down stairs. By the end of the day, my sedentary visitors are usually quite worn out. It is no surprise, they remark, that Japanese people tend to be trimmer than Westerners. Well, that is half the story. My Japanese friends also remark when they go overseas at how sweet the food is in the West. Sugar, according to our Dr. Robert Lustig, Professor of Pediatric Endocrinology, University of California San Francisco, is almost half fructose, and therein lies the other half of the answer. The Japanese people may eat a lot of white rice, but they tend to avoid sweet foods, and the sweets they do create tend to be far less sweet than Western tastes would demand.

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